RAVENS’ CONSPIRACY by Ian Turney
The frozen, midwinter night sky was alive with sparkling starlight but the magical sight was lost on Gallus and Ariette – his wife – in their desperate flight from the marauding North-men. Deathly screams and sickening thuds of iron cleaving flesh and bone harried their desperate flight towards Northey as they crossed the slimy, hoar iced wooden bridge leading to the higher ground. The fire beacons had raised the alarm but too late as the vīkingr were born to raid creeks and inlets of the Fenn Blackwater.
Mike pulled his old Ford fiesta into the passing bay by the old stone bridge: killed the engine and removed his metal detector from the boot.
“Do we have to do this now Dad?” Complained Dana, Mike’s teenage daughter. “Mum wants us home in time for Corro – with the fish and chips.”
“It won’t take long. The farmer’s just finished ploughing. I need to get in before any ‘nighthawks.’ I won’t let those bastard night raiders get the jump on one of my sites again.”
Across the Nene, Gallus could see the ghostly figure of the vīkingr roaring, as their savagery swept through the burning Worth: the timber palisade was no defence against their violent assault. He caught Ariette as she stumbled. Gallus put his supportive hand around her waist and felt the sodden fur of her mortal wound.
But before he could speak, she groaned and almost fainted. “I am so sorry Gallus,” she gasped.
Gallus heart broke. “Not far – we shelter under the Ravens’ Yews.”
Mike wasn’t to be denied, he stormed up the hill.
“Why here Dad?
“Ravens. Ravens,” he replied as if it was obvious.
“What about Ravens?”
“They love shiny things: Valuable shiny things. This was a big Raven’s roost in the dark ages – it’s their hoard site. I researched it. Good idea eh?”
“You sure Dad? Isn’t it Jackdaws that nick things? I saw it on the TV.”
Mike hesitated. He daughter’s words had an echo of truth. But he was not to be denied his earlier belief, he mumbled, “Same type of bird.”
Ariette and Gallus collapsed under the deep black shadow of a big yew and leaned against a large boulder. Ariette was fading fast: Gallus tears ran unabated, carving scars through his grim smoke-stained countenance. He accepted the inevitable but would not be separated from his childhood love. One last act before he would join with her. Gallus drew his knife and stabbed the ground to bury their jewels and rings together – to outwit the ‘Warags’. His fingers then tore at the yew foliage from a branch. Chewing on the leaves and seeds he drew Ariette close to him – a final gentle kiss – they lay back spellbound by the beautiful heavens where they would journey together.
After two hours of Dana nagging him about time – her phone pinging texts from mum demanding to know where they were – Mike collapsed in a sweaty heap onto a large boulder. He couldn’t understand it, grumbling to himself. “Bloody nothing.” Mike thumped his detector on the ground in frustration: It squealed in protest?